Book of Judges Bible Study Commentary -
Gideon and the Power of Weakness (Part 1)
by I Gordon
 ↩ This is a useful picture and a timely reminder for our lives if we are trying to plant seeds and be fruitful without having God in His rightful place in our lives. We may put in the effort, prepare the ground, plant the seeds etc, but it won't come to anything without God. The enemy can snatch and destroy the produce! Abide in the vine, however, as Jesus told us, and you will bear much fruit.
 ↩ Bits and bobs about Midian - Firstly the Midianites are descendants of Midian (it is probably about now you are starting to wonder why you bothered reading this footnote!) who was one of Abraham's sons. After Sarah died, Abraham took another wife, Keturah, and she bore Midian amongst others. (Gen 25:2) It was the Midianites that took Joseph as a slave down into Egypt (Gen 37:36). Later, God told Moses to attack Midian because of their tricks and treachery. Moses did what God asked and Midian was fully defeated. (Num 25:16-18, Num 31:1-9) So when Israel had lived in obedience and dependence upon God they dealt to Midian. But now in Judges they forget the Lord and Midian strikes back! What a shame it is when that which was once defeated rears its ugly head again and takes control. Ever have this happen in your life? Without the Lord, sins and habits that we thought were conquered can rise again. Our need is a daily looking to the Lord for His life to be manifest in ours.
 ↩ The following footnote comes with a warning - Do not try this at home!
Unfortunately, sometimes we can be dumber than sparrows when it comes to avoiding temptation and its resulting trouble. Learn this simple lesson from nature. I read recently that if you tear down a sparrows nest it will rebuild it in the same place (poor little sparrow!). Tear it down again and it will rebuild it in the same place again. Tear it down a third time and it will rebuild it but in a higher location! May have a wee-sparrow pea brain but at least it is smart enough to not keep putting itself in the place of danger! Christians could learn from this!
 ↩ As much as possible, try not to be one of those people who blames every difficulty on sin or the devil! Job was a righteous man yet his 'friend' Eliphaz said that it is only the wicked that perish and that you reap what you sow blah blah. (Job 4:4-9) Sounds sensible but its not! Job had another 'good friend' in Bildad. Bildad was really 'wise' as well saying that Job's trouble was due to his and his children's sins. (Job 8:4-6). As the saying goes, with friends like this, who needs enemies? No wonder Job pleaded for some kindness from them in the midst of his huge trial (Job -15). Jesus said that 'in this world you will have trouble.' It is a promise, so don't keep thinking that it is always the enemy or sin in someone's life that causes it. More often than not, it is so the glory of God can be revealed. (John 9:1-4)
 ↩ Job and his good, and not so good, buddies spend over 30 chapters discussing where Job's problems have come from. Finally in chapter 38 God intervenes (probably because of all the stupid conclusions Job's friends came to) and speaks to Job. But never does He answer why the trouble occurred and why He let it happen. These things we often have to leave to the wisdom of God. When God does speak, He poses over 70 questions to Job which shows God's divine control over all of creation, and highlights Job's ignorance! He is in control even though we may not understand.
 ↩ I'm sure you can remember how many fighting men were in the tribe of Manasseh when Israel was in the wilderness. I know, everyone knows that it was 32,200. What is interesting is that this was the smallest tribe in terms of numbers. (See Num 1:19-46) So when God sought out a man to deliver Israel he went to the smallest tribe, to the least family within that tribe, and then picked the youngest member - Gideon! Talk about choosing the weak to confound the wise!
 ↩ Someone once asked Hudson Taylor, the pioneer missionary to China, why he had been so successful in his missionary work in China. Hudson replied, 'it seems to be that God searched the entire world looking for the weakest man, and when He found me, He said 'you'll do!'.
 ↩ Ridout says a good thing about this when he says 'How common it is to find those who have done with boasting and thinking they are great, to now be preoccupied by their littleness. But little 'I' is as great a hindrance as great 'I'. It looks very humble to depreciate one's self, to keep in the background, but there is often a very subtle pride that wears this garb of humility. It is not self, good or bad, that is to be before us; weak or strong 'I' are to be alike refused, that God alone may have the glory.
 ↩ I have spoken about this before so I won't spend ages on it. Before being born as a baby in Bethlehem, the Lord Jesus had many 'goings forth' as Micah puts it. (Micah 5:2) These were often visitations to key Old Testament figures as 'the angel of the Lord'. The angel spoke as God, identified Himself with God, and exercised authority as God. The reaction of those that saw 'the angel' was that they had seen God and would surely die! See Gen 16:7-14, 21:17-21, 22:11-18, 31:11-13, Exodus 3:2, Judges 2:1-4, 2 Sam 24:16, Zech 1:12, 3:1. That should keep you going for a while! Although I get a sneaky suspicion that you're not even going to look them up are you?
 ↩ I quite like what the 'Believers Bible Commentary' says about it - 'Gideon's fleece is often misunderstood by Christians. There are two things about this incident that we should keep in mind: Gideon was not looking for guidance but for confirmation. God had already told Gideon what to do. Secondly, Gideon had asked for a supernatural sign, not a natural one. Today people use things as a 'fleece' that could happen naturally. This, too, is a wrong way to use the story. What we see here is God condescending to a man of weak faith to assure him of victory. God can, and does, give such assurances today in answer to prayer.'
There is also a prophetic significance to these signs (for those who are interested.) The fleece is representative of God's sheep (which at the time was the nation of Israel). The dew or water is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. So in the first instance you have the fleece full of water and the surrounding ground dry. This speaks of God's work amongst his people Israel while the surrounding nations were (largely) without His Spirit. The second sign is the opposite however in that the ground has the dew (Holy Spirit) while the fleece (God's sheep Israel) is dry. That is what we see in the age in which we live in that God is moving amongst the nations, while Israel to some extent has been hardened and are dry. Not forever though!